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China Short of 5,000 Railway Cars

Railway passengers in China may have to travel on crowded trains in this holiday season, as Chinese railways need more cars to cope with the rush.


China needs an additional 9,730 railway cars to carry all the passengers expected during this year's Spring Festival travel season. However, there are only 4,500 more cars than usual available, resulting in a shortfall of 5,000, according to a source at the Ministry of Railways Saturday.


China has more than 70,000 kilometers of railway lines. In normal times, the country's passenger trains offer 2.8 million seats every day, by and large covering the demand. But when the annual 40-day Spring Festival travel season comes around, the country's daily passenger demand jumps to 3.5 million-4.3 million persons every day.


China has about 37,000 railway passenger cars, only 4,500 of which are reserved for emergency use, far fewer than the current requirement of 9,730. Therefore, the Ministry of Railways has had to suspend some short-distance services during the Spring Festival season.


It is estimated that more than 5 million people, including university students, migrant workers and people on home leave, will return to their hometowns from Beijing, requiring some 600 passenger trains.


"The requirement has almost reached the city's maximum railway transport capacity, and the Ministry has to transfer trains from Shenyang and Harbin, two major northeast China cities, to relieve the capital's railway transport strain," the source said.


The Ministry has suspended the operation of some goods trains on certain lines, such as the one connecting Beijing and Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province.


China's commercial railway mileage accounts for merely 6 percent of the world's total, but it carries 23 percent of the world's railway passengers.


In 1993, China's railway system carried 20 million passengers during the Spring Festival season, while the figure is expected to soar to 130 million this year.


(Xinhua News Agency January 11, 2004)

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